Relationship of Men and Gods in Gilgamesh

Men and Gods in Gilgamesh's Epic

Given that they behave and appear similarly, men and gods in Gilgamesh's epic do not have a complicated connection. Additionally, because of their interdependence, they support one another in carrying out everyday tasks and experience similar emotions and feelings. As an illustration, following the Great Flood, the Anunnaki gods wept and felt humiliated by the terror they had inflicted. (Tablet XI 127-128). Such emotions are comparable to those Gilgamesh experienced following the loss of his friend. However, there are few things a man is expected to do for them to please gods that include obeying wishes and doing whatever they are asked of them promptly. Likewise, men have the responsibility of appeasing the gods with sacrifices and showing respect them unquestionably. Meanwhile, the gods are expected to protect humankind by keeping them safe from the dangers and evil. All this shows that gods have complete control over men, though they only intervene when human actions are displeasing.

Similarities Between Gods and Humans

Despite the superiority of gods to humans, both are also shown to be similar, especially in the story of the flood. Here, they portray similar behaviors and tendencies such that they both do make mistakes. For instance, Ea criticizes Ellil by asserting that "The gods should come to the incense offering, / But Ellis should not come to the incense offering, / For he, irrationally, brought on the flood, / And marked my people for destruction!" (Tablet XI171-174). According to Ea, it was senseless for such a wise god as Ellil to bring a massive flood of destroying humankind. Another example that portrays men and gods as similar to human beings are their expression of fear. The men showed concern when the flood started while gods expressed panic after realizing the impact of their actions. Moreover, as stated in the story, gods also got terrified by the flood, "The gods became frightened of the deluge, / They shrank back, went up to Anu's highest heaven. The gods cowered like dogs, crouching outside" (Tablet XI 116-118).

The Power of Gods and their Ability to Punish

The gods having complete power over human could punish them as illustrated in the story. Whenever humanity disobeyed gods, the punishment would inflict on the person without negotiation on the extent for taking an actiontaken. A good example is when Gilgamesh who is the god of love spurns Ishtar, she requests Anu, the father of goddess, and god of the sky, to send a bull to punish him (Tablet VI 91-95). The beast from heaven came down with a famine that was to last for seven years. Such a punishment seems unjustifiable since all people living in Uruk would have suffered because of their king rejecting to love back the goddess. However, since gods, as illustrated, had control over humankind, Gilgamesh had to face the punishment which was fighting the bull to save him and kingdom at large.

The Punishment of Enkidu

Enkidu is a type of punishment by gods for all their transgression with his friend. The individual had been created by gods to control the cruel actions of king Gilgamesh against the people. The king, who was the third man and two-thirds god used to accomplish projects with forced labor, oppressed his subjects, and even raped women. Due to the powers he had, the gods were forced to create a superhuman equivalent of Gilgamesh to tame his action. However, instead of controlling the king, Enkidu became friends with Gilgamesh and even helped him to carry out his mischievous deeds. For instance, the two fought and killed the Anus' bull that was to serve as a punishment to the king for disobeying Ishtar. Angered by the action of Enkidu and Gilgamesh, gods convened a meeting in which they decided Enkidu must face punishment by inflicting suffering in the form of a disease and death (Tablet VII 159-171).The other example of punishment illustrated in this account is the massive flood aimed to eliminate humanity except for Utnapishtim. Although gods regretted having taken such an action and swore never to punish humans that way again, this punishment shows the extent of control they have over a human.

The Mortality of Humans and the Influence of Gods

Also, gods decided that men will have to die although humanity would continue as the punishment of sins. This is well illustrated when Utnapishtim states that, "The supreme gods, the great gods, being convened, / Mammetum, she who creates destinies, ordaining destinies with them, / They established death and life, / They did not reveal the time of death" (Tablet X243-246). Consequently, men appear in this account as mortal beings deemed to die no matter what they try to do to save themselves. As we see, made attempts as possible of becoming immortal and after he eventually finds it, a sapient steals and eats his source of youthfulness leaving the king with no other option. In fact, the king himself indicates this when he asserts, "The gods dwell forever in the sun, / People's days are numbered, / Whatever they attempt is a puff of air" (Tablet II 176-178). However, gods can give people a chance of living immortally in the eternal life such as Utnapishtim's one after death if they redeem their ways and obey their commands.

The Power and Control of Gods Over Humans

Indeed, gods seem to be powerful beings compared to humans in Gilgamesh account. As it can be observed in all three examples, gods can decide whether to kill a person and what means they will use to implement such kind of punishment. In fact, they have power over human beings and the environment they live in as illustrated in the Gilgamesh account. Furthermore, they can punish a person individually as it was in Enkidu's case, or as a society - with the help of the massive flood that destroyed almost everybody. This way, although men and gods might share similar emotions and behaviors, the gods control the lives of human beings.

Work Cited

Puchner, Martin. “The Epic of Gilgamesh.”The Norton Anthology of Western Literature, 9th edition, Vol 1. New York, W.W. Norton, 2014.54-110. Print

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price